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Arkansas declares by Amendment 80 to its state Constitution that its political races for the Arkansas Supreme Court must be "nonpartisan."

Would you please stop laughing? Get up off the floor right now. How are you going to make it through these ensuing paragraphs if you don't cease that convulsive guffawing? Show a little respect for the law, even if the Republicans don't.

Our state's celebrity Trumpian-in-residence, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, famous for fealty to the preposterous second-place and Russia-endorsed president, drew another big Republican dinner crowd the other night. This was in Hot Springs.

Sanders got up at the event and said that she and others had been joking that the only two votes that those in the crowd absolutely were required to make next year were for Donald Trump for president and Barbara Webb for the Arkansas Supreme Court.

She wasn't actually joking about Trump, nor Webb, the wife of the state Republican Party chairman, Doyle.

Just to be clear on that, I inquired of Sanders and got this terse reply: "It's a free country and I strongly support Barbara Webb because she's the best candidate."

I thanked her and invited her to call and elaborate on Webb's being the best candidate, but did not hear further.

That clear statement of endorsement ought to preserve Sarah's state Republican bona fides for the Republican gubernatorial primary of 2022 against Tim Griffin.

Tim had the next governorship locked up until Sarah came home with Trump's personal sendoff and started drawing crowds such as the one in Garland County and 600 on a recent icy evening in Rogers.

So, here is your "nonpartisan" race for the "nonpartisan" Arkansas Supreme Court: The wife of the state Republican chairman seeks Supreme Court election and gets a shout-out from Trump's most devoted apologist in front of several hundred persons who are so intense in their Republican hyper-partisanship that they came out just to get a look at the woman whose soul-mortgaging allegiance to the impeachable Trump is legend.

Sanders connected the dots from Trump through Webb and on to supreme "justice" in Arkansas.

Trump does not respect judges. He once attacked a Mexican American judge by making the plainly racist charge that a Mexican American couldn't be fair to him in a suit alleging he conned a bunch of people into signing up for his bogus Trump University.

Countless reports have been made about Trump's angry railing inside the White House because he can't do as he pleases without judges sticking their noses into it.

It might well be that the best candidate in the two-candidate Supreme Court race is the one not married to the state GOP chairman and the one not dot-connected to the presidential atrocity.

Pulaski Circuit Judge Morgan "Chip" Welch was a noted and successful trial lawyer for 30-plus years. Then he became a solid and respected trial judge, which he's been for seven years. He has been named the trial lawyer of the year and the trial judge of the year.

Barbara Webb was the Saline County prosecutor for six years, then an executive and administrative law judge (not a commissioner) for the quasi-judicial Workers Compensation Commission. She served as a circuit judge for a few months on Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson's appointment to fill a vacancy.

I know of a gentleman who gave some thought to making the Supreme Court race on the notion that there might have been room to sneak into a runoff by getting between Webb's partisanship and Welch's possibly polarizing background as a trial lawyer.

The man decided against the race because he couldn't see a viable path to victory past Webb's pre-emptive Republican advantage.

His decision looks pretty sound. And Welch deserves good luck and our best wishes that the dark-money attacks on him in Webb's behalf from unaccountable Republican groups won't be too slanderous.

I'd prefer to put the charade aside and go ahead and give Webb her black robe and a MAGA cap so that she can get on with dispensing Republican injustice in our little Trumpian colony.

She could join other Supreme Court justices in presuming to sanction Pulaski Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen for openly expressing strong social views while also holding court as a judge, sometimes on cases touching on matters he's openly expressed strong opinions about.

I have received scorn from liberals for saying Griffen ought to settle on one or the other--either be a judge and concede to the appearance of judicial detachment, or take proudly to the street to advocate his admirable views.

But, you know, he's not presuming to do his judging as a Democrat. I know of no occasion when the Democratic Party held a function to encourage Democrats to vote for him, not that it would do him a bit of good.

What I'm saying is that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a woman of such influence, has made me more accepting of Judge Griffen.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 11/24/2019


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